It is now official! The omnibus Education Bill - HB 1642 - passed by the House and the Senate on July 7th was signed by House and Senate leaders and then by Governor Wolf the next day. It is now law! Those in special education who turned 21 this past school year (or who will have turned 21 by the end of this summer) will be offered an additional year of public school.
We expect that those who are eligible will receive a formal notice from their school district within the next 7 to 10 days, and will then have until August 1st to indicate their preference to them. Some schools may have to hire an additional teacher or other staff to cover those youths who elect to return for another year - they will appreciate your patience as they work out the details.
Those offered an additional year and who were also approved for a waiver may now be able to achieve a smoother transition. Over the coming weeks, we will offer some guidance on how education- and waiver-funded services can complement each other, to perhaps begin to achieve a seamless transition in services that traditional planning alone could never accomplish.
For those youths with IEPs who will turn 21 during the next school year, our campaign continues! We expect to reach back out to you before the start of the new school year, to suggest how you can document your case for additional schooling through the IEP process. We will also invite you to get involved in a campaign to advocate for an additional year - the experience gained this year, and new data we expect to uncover, will help strengthen our campaign. But our experience also reminded us of the many gaps in transition services across Pennsylvania that pre-date the Covid crisis. These should have been fixed long ago, and may lead us to broaden our research and advocacy.
For now, let's celebrate! At least 600 to 800 of Pennsylvania's most vulnerable youths will get the education Covid tried to steal from them, through the combined efforts of parents and lawmakers.